05 June 2020

Ronnie O’Sullivan faultless on return to snooker in Championship League

05 June 2020

Ronnie O’Sullivan coasted into the second phase of the Championship League after winning nine frames out of nine in Milton Keynes.

The five-time world champion showed little sign of lockdown rustiness as he dispatched each of his three opponents 3-0 to easily top Group 10.

Sporting a moustache, O’Sullivan returned to action with a century break as he swept aside Kishan Hirani in the opening contest. He posted a 112 clearance in the first frame and followed that up with breaks of 52 and 65.

The 44-year-old got even better against Michael Georgiou to rack up breaks of 116, 82 and 80 and set up a deciding clash with Chris Wakelin.

And O’Sullivan rounded off his night at the Marshall Arena with breaks of 97 and 93.

Tom Ford also enjoyed an emphatic success in Group 15, losing just one frame as he finished ahead of second-placed Robert Milkins, Ian Burns and Mike Dunn.

However, after his clean sweep, O’Sullivan admitted he struggled to adapt to the enforced lockdown rules, adding that he “ran out of food” and was “eating cornflakes for the rest of the day”.

He told BBC Sport: “If every tournament was to be like this then I am not sure I would be able to do it.

“I have struggled. I was in the room for 24 hours so I have had a bit of a headache and started to get a bit of a cough and can’t even get the window open.

“You want to be in good health at the moment so this bubble is not ideal. If the facilities do (improve) and if you have to stay on site at the hotel and (are able to) use the gym, then it would be better.

“At the moment there is none of that so it is tough. I like my own company but it is tough being cooped up. It is not easy for me, I must admit.”

Ronnie O’Sullivan in action during the Championship League (PA Media)

There have been no positive Covid-19 results out of 78 tests and the success of the return to action has prompted World Snooker to schedule another event at the same venue, which has a hotel on site.

The Coral Tour Championship – featuring the top eight players in this year’s money list – will take place from June 20-26, having initially been due to take place in Llandudno in March.

World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn said: “The feedback we have had this week from the players at the venue in Milton Keynes has been excellent.

“Any concerns they may have had about their own welfare have been laid to rest – in fact one player described it as ‘probably the safest place on Earth’.

“We have proved that despite the many challenges associated with running events in the current conditions, it can be done.

“There is no sport which can meet the required regulations on isolation, sanitation and social distancing as rigorously as snooker can, and that is why we have set an example for other sports to follow.”

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